Juvenile Case Plan: Placement of the Children
If the Court takes Jurisdiction of your child or children, the social worker must present a plan for services, known as a Case Plan. This plan will contain things that the parents are required to do, such as parenting classes, clean drug tests, visitation, etc. The social worker must also follow the plan by offering services and regularly meeting with both the child and the parents, usually once a month while the case plan is in progress.
Changing the Case Plan or Court Orders
When there is a change of the parents’ circumstances for the better, or new compelling evidence that the Court should made aware of, your attorney can petition to change the previous court orders.
Your juvenile law attorney can file a motion – at any appropriate time – for a change of any prior dependency court order, as long as it can be shown that it is in the best interest of the child, there is new evidence or there are changed circumstances. This must take place before parental rights are terminated.
The motion is called a 388 petition, otherwise known as a JV-180. In California, this refers to the Welfare & Institutions Code that states either the parents OR the county may petition the Court to change the previous orders. It is up to the attorney to put on evidence and show why it is in the best interest of the children, and it must comply with juvenile law. If it meets the threshold requirements, the Court will grant a hearing date in which to argue the evidence and the judge, if satisfied, will grant a change in the prior court order. This can be for an accelerated visitation plan or return of the children. It can be for anything relevant to the case.
After your child is removed and placed into temporary care, the social worker on your case will refer you to reunification service providers. It is then up to you to enroll in and complete those services. Your juvenile dependency attorney can represent your interests when it is being decided which services will be required of you in Walnut Creek, California. General tips for success in reunification services include:
- Do not delay. Once your child has been placed in another home, your time to gain reunification is limited. You may have six months or less to show the judge that you are making real progress. It is helpful to have a Walnut Creek juvenile dependency attorney on your side to present evidence of this progress to the court.
- Notify the social worker of conflicts immediately. There are many problems that can arise when you attempt to enroll in reunification services. Perhaps you live in a rural area and the only provider is not accepting new patients, or the next substance abuse class does not begin for several months.
If something interferes with your beginning or completing the ordered services in Walnut Creek, CA, report the problem to your social worker and your juvenile dependency attorney immediately, before it can be seen as a failure on your part.
- Show up on time. You can bet that all service providers will communicate with the social worker on your case. These providers will create written progress reports that will be passed on to the judge. If you don’t show up or show up late, it will send the wrong message to the court.
- Give your all. Simply showing up for court-ordered services is not enough for most judges. You will be expected to actively participate in services. Resistant behavior will absolutely not serve you well but a good progress report from service providers will.
You are entitled to reasonable visitation with your child after he or she has been removed from your care, unless there is an issue of safety. How you handle this visitation can have a significant impact on whether or not you regain custody of your child. It is important to show up to every scheduled visit on time and to follow any rules that have been provided. The more progress you display when interacting with your child during visitation, the more likely the judge will be to return your child to your home and your care.
Interacting With Social Workers
In addition to investigating reports of abuse and monitoring progress, social workers are required to report back to and make recommendations to the juvenile dependency court. The social worker will be expected to periodically file a progress report on your case. Judges very much depend on these reports when they are making decisions in your case. It is a very wise move to communicate your progress to your assigned social worker through your juvenile dependency attorney in Walnut Creek, CA. This can avoid misunderstandings that could have a devastating impact on your case.
Three things could take place:
- The dependency judge could deny the petition without a hearing.
- The dependency judge could order a hearing.
- The dependency judge could agree to a stipulation by all of the attorneys.
- Like all previous juvenile court proceedings, adverse 388 rulings can be appealed by the parents.
Grandparents and Other Relatives
If you are a grandparent or other person, you can also petition the court for what is called de facto parental status. You can ask the court to place the children in your care. The law mandates that relatives be given preferential treatment for placement of the children. Your application MUST be considered by the social worker. Many motions, arguments and procedures exist to protect the grandparent’s rights in juvenile court. The Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson have represented many grandparents and other caregivers in juvenile court.
Out of State Relatives
If you are a relative and you live out of state, you can apply for the placement of the children in your care through what is known as ICPC, the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. The social worker, once notified, can make appropriate inquiries to get this process moving forward. There are ways it can be done in a very expedited manner under certain circumstances.
Status Review Hearings
If the case proceeds through disposition, review hearings are generally set in six month increments. There are many circumstances where the court will set them earlier than six months, but the general setting of reviews are at six months.
The court reviews the progress of the parent’s on their case plan at these stages and can dismiss or continue the jurisdiction at these proceedings.
Termination of Parental Rights
If, at this unfortunate stage of the dependency proceedings, a parent is incapable or unable to finish or complete the requested case plan set forth by the social worker from CPS/DFCS, the Department of Social Services will move for termination of parental rights, long term foster care, or guardianship in what is known as a “26 Hearing”. Again, this is an informal reference to the California Welfare & Institutions Code 366.26 that essentially allows the state to put your children up for adoption. This is supposed to be a last-resort action by the Court.
YOUR ATTORNEY WHO WORKS IN THE AREA OF JUVENILE LAW AND JUVENILE DEPENDENCY can and should strongly argue for no termination of parental rights. A 388 petition or JV-180 can be filed, within the parameters of juvenile law requirements, and may be heard to stop the termination of parental rights. This is something your attorney who works in the area of juvenile law and juvenile dependency will advocate for.
In the many years of our experience in the area of juvenile law, nothing is more important than an interested, hard-working, zealous advocate with experience in the specific area of juvenile dependency in order for you to have the most effective advocacy in the courtroom. We can be your best advocate!
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